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Why BBC’s documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ is not a usual case of artistic freedom


By Ishan Kukerti

The ghost of 2012 Delhi Gang rape is here to haunt the nation again, making people cringe and boil with a sense of angst at the same time.

The government’s decision to put a restrain on the documentary is hardly a surprise but not totally unjustified. The state has played its part, and done that pretty fine. Although the case is pending in Supreme Court, out of the six accused, four are on a death row, one has committed suicide and one is in juvenile prison. For the government, the film is giving fuel to a fire and it has put it out the best way it could, within its capability.

The Justice Verma Report and the subsequent Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance 2013 are proof that the problem lies not with the state but the society. When a red faced Rajnath Singh says that the government is going to take action against BBC, then he is talking more as a member of a shamed society whose shortcomings are being rubbed into the face, than a statesman who is on a banning binge.

Freedom of speech, really?

This is not a usual case of freedom of speech or artistic freedom. Rape is a very sensitive issue and can’t be dealt like any other issue under the umbrella term, Freedom of Speech. The point is, will the film bring a change, serve a purpose?

There have been a lot of documentaries and films about the increasing rape culture in India along with other pressing issues relating to women in the past which have come and gone without occupying any substantial space in the media or people`s thought processes. None has resulted in the decline of rape cases or even the initiation of a dialogue at the ground level. Sex is still a taboo in India and what is required is a need to start a dialogue, free and meaningful.


The Big Sister calls

The buzz created around India`s Daughter is majorly because it’s a BBC production and can be considered as a third person`s perspective. But has Leslee Udwin done justice to the subject of a universal social evil, by narrowing down her study on a specific yet in no way insignificant atrocity? Could her inquiry into the matter, as an international commentator been more holistic if she had taken a broader worldwide view, included the tussle between genders and an underlying primordial animal behavior in such cases, be it in Steubenville or France?  The documentary seems to be looking for a black cat in a room with lights turned off.  Or just saying that there is a black cat in the room.

According to a BBC survey, 230 women are raped in UK everyday and less than 1 in a 100 people gets convicted for the same. Yet Leslee Udwin`s decision to give voice to her sisters, so territorially and culturally removed from her seems weird, almost resembling a white burden of some sort. Maybe the brutality of the rape had attracted her imagination, which is well explored in the film. But isn’t this falling into the downward spiral of sensationalism in Journalism? Choosing an event more shocking than others ( yet in no way the most shocking, she could have found even more pathetic realities here or elsewhere) based on its content quality?


Solution, precipitate or nothing at all?   

But the BBC television director Danny Cohen has said that the film, ‘ Has a strong public interest of crating awareness about a global problem.’ and the inductive logic of the documentary gives some strong causes to rape as a phenomenon, like changing economy, patriarchy and social deprivation, but the solutions it brings to the discussion are quite generic and not unprecedented ‘ should bes’

like education and changing people`s mindset. More than a critical inquiry into an ignominious social evil, the film is a multi-narrative of the blood curding incident on December 16, 2012, which certainly makes the head hang but doesn’t bring anything concrete to the table. Shame has never deterred a criminal from a crime nor has repetition changed perceptions. The interview with one of the main accused in the case is proof enough how difficult it is to change someone`s view point. However the film has undoubtedly reinforced viewer`s opinion by giving it an authoritative BBC kind of voice.


Will the Indian society or the world at large learn anything from the heart rendering reality of Nirbhaya? Will it make those who need to introspect, wait for a moment in their lives and think again?

The documentary is a definite reminder, a shocker, that the world has yet not forgotten about Nirbahya, even though most people have moved on to other issues, to different pandals at Jantar Mantar. In the end the relevance of the film can only be established on the basis of weather it incites frustration or leads to a constructive dialogue in the society.

  • The documentary raises some very relevant questions undoubtedly, however, it probably failed to delve deeper about the malice called rape and sought to play to certain stereotypes( uneducated and poor men rape etc). If this documentary can raise awareness and expedite punishment of the rapists in question, its somewhat achieved what it set out to do.

  • The documentary raises some very relevant questions undoubtedly, however, it probably failed to delve deeper about the malice called rape and sought to play to certain stereotypes( uneducated and poor men rape etc). If this documentary can raise awareness and expedite punishment of the rapists in question, its somewhat achieved what it set out to do.

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Triple Talaq Ban in India: Union Cabinet Passes Bill Making the Practice a Criminal Offence

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban
Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban

• Supreme court had ruled that the practice of triple talaq is illegal in August 2017.
• On December 15, the Union Cabinet passed a bill which would make it a criminal offence.
• The bill recommends a sentence of imprisonment for three years in case of a violation.
• The bill also makes provisions for “subsistence allowance” for the women divorced through triple talaq.

On December 15, the Union Cabinet of India cleared a draft legislation, which would make the controversial practice of triple talaq a criminal offence in India, a violation of which may result in imprisonment for a period of three years for the husband. The recently approved bill, deemed as the ‘Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, was framed by a group of ministers including the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and was headed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, often enacted through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

Triple Talaq Ban

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India had banned the archaic practice of triple talaq, after a long and hard legal battle fought by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. “Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” they had declared, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Many non-governmental Islamic organizations, along with certain clerics had opposed the verdict, on the grounds that it was an infringement of their right to religion, which is ensured by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, had decided to uphold Article 14 of the Constitution, which grants every citizen equality before the law. The verdict had met with mixed reactions among the people of India, attracting applause as well as apprehension all over the country.
However, in spite of the Supreme Court verdict, there have been reports of instant divorces performed through the process of oral declaration, as many continued to ignore the various advisories issued by the government.
The new bill approved by the government also makes provisions for Muslim Women to demand “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children from her husband, in case she feels victimised by the now illegal practice of triple talaq.


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Love Jihad Case : Kerala’s State Women Commission Directs SP to submit report on Hadiya’s Condition

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  However, their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala

Office of Kerala Women Comission
Office of Kerala Women Comission. Official Website KWC

Kerala, October 28, 2017 : A day after a video of Hadiya pleading to be ‘saved’ from her father’s brutalities was released, Kerala’s State Women Commission has directed Kottayam Superintendent of Police to inquire and submit a report on Hadiya’s present conditions.

In the video release at a press conference in Kochi by social activist Rahul Eashwar, Hadiya can be heard saying, “You have to get me out. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or the day after.” Hadiya claims that her father is physically assaulting her and pleads to be saved in the video before her voice trails away.

The direction came following reports that Hadiya is being sedated and physically abused at her parents’ house.

The State Women Commission has told the SP that an officer not less than the rank of a DSP should conduct the inquiry and submit a report on the condition of the 24-year old woman in love jihad case.

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  Their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala after Hadiya’s father Ashokan has approached the court, claiming that his daughter had been forcefully converted and her alleged husband was involved in plans to take her out of the country for questionable reasons.

Consequently, Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan had approached the Supreme Court and challenged the order by the High Court of Kerala, which is still hearing the case.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

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Gorkhaland: SC allows withdrawl of Central Forces from Darjeeling

The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 27: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Centre to withdraw seven companies of central paramilitary forces from trouble-torn Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal where the agitation for Gorkhaland, a separate state for Gorkhas took a violent turn.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the Centre to withdraw the seven companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) for being used for election duties in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The bench also sought a response from the West Bengal government on the Centre’s appeal against the High Court’s order putting on hold its decision to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of the central paramilitary forces deployed in the hill district.

The apex court also stayed the pending proceedings before the High Court and said that it will deal with the case in a holistic manner and posted the appeal of the Centre for further hearing on November 27.

In an interim order, the High Court had stayed the withdrawal of CAPF from the Darjeeling hills till October 27 after the state government approached it against the Centre’s decision.(IANS)